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February 10, 2010

Why the Army doesn't train on Xboxes

It isn't about the technology. Michael Peck investigates Microsoft's initial refusal to sell Xboxes to the United States Army for training purposes.

Roger Smith, chief technology officer for PEO STRI, the Army command responsible for purchasing training equipment, claims that Microsoft refused to sell him the consoles. Smith told me that he discussed acquiring the Xbox with Microsoft representatives at a trade show back in 2006. According to Smith, the Microsoft executives said they would neither sell the Xbox 360 nor license XNA game development tools to the Army for three reasons:

* Microsoft was afraid that the military would buy up lots of Xbox 360s, but would buy only one game for each of them, so MS wouldn’t make much money off of the games.

* A big military purchase could create a shortage of Xbox 360s.

* If the Xbox became an Army training device, it could taint its reputation. Microsoft was concerned that “do we want the Xbox 360 to be seen as having the flavor of a weapon? Do we want Mom and Dad knowing that their kid is buying the same game console as the military trains the SEALs and Rangers on?” Smith told me during an interview for Training & Simulation Journal.

Not surprising perhaps, the Army has cooled on Microsoft.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at February 10, 2010 11:04 AM